The Dalmatian Dog Breed – Interested In This Distinctive Dog?


The famous Spotted dog

The Dalmatian is not particularly common, but this handsome and athletic dog breed is one of the most instantly recognizable in the world, thanks to that white-and-black coat and everyone’s favorite childhood story of 101 Dalmatians!

An adult Dalmatian dog standing alertly on a path with grass in the background
Adult Dalmatian

Dalmatian – Breed History

As the name suggests, the breed has its roots on the coast of Dalmatia, which is modern-day Croatia. Early records suggest that they were used for shepherding, for hunting and for protection.

After the breed was introduced to England, it was developed to become a coach dog, which would run along at the side of stage coaches. The Dalmatian would help to clear the road ahead, and protect the often wealthy coach-occupants from highwaymen.

As a result of this breeding, they developed enormous energy and endurance. This trait is still dominant in modern-day dogs, and they are EXTREMELY active, needing a lot of exercise between their deep sleeps!

Dalmatian – Temperament

This breed is highly intelligent but also quite sensitive. They need clear and gentle handing during training. They do not respond well at all to heavy-handed training methods. But training is essential for these dogs, as they can start to “do things their way” if they are not given clear directions as puppies.

A Dalmatian will usually get on well with other dogs and pets and also children. They are not particularly territorial nor aggressive, and are very tolerant.

They LOVE playing with children, but need a watchful eye with kids under (say) 6 years of age, as they may knock smaller kids over with their boisterous and athletic nature.

A Dalmatian running at full speed from left to right across a grass field
Image courtesy of Highgate Dalmatians, British Columbia, Canada.

This is a great dog if you want to DO things with your dog. He will give a good account of himself in obedience trials (with the correct training, of course!); And with his boundless energy, enthusiasm and endurance he will LOVE running with you in any capacity, such as skating, jogging, and cycling, as well as hiking and backpacking. They are also ideal dogs for the new sport of Canicross.

Vital Statistics

Height;  Males 22 – 24 inches

            Females 19 – 22 inches

Weight; 48 to 55 pounds. Males are always bigger and heavier than females.

Dalmatian – Grooming

A Dalmatian puppy in a field of yellow flowers, looking at the camera
Dalmatian puppy

This dog breed has a short, dense and very fine coat. The color is typically predominantly white with black spots. Note that Dalmatian puppies are born snow-white, and the spots develop as the dogs grow. (Unlike the “ridge” on the back of a Rhodesian Ridgeback, which is present from birth).

Their coat is dirt-repellent, and stays remarkably clean. They have very little “doggie” smell. BUT they DO shed hairs all year round! You should brush your dog’s coat at least twice a week to remove loose hairs and minimize shedding around the home.

Ease of Training a Dalmatian

These are intelligent dogs with a sly sense of humor and a streak of independence that can become disruptive if the dog is not trained as a puppy. With patience, and guidance from an experienced dog trainer, Dalmatians will become obedient and well-behaved. The are not difficult to train, but DO need patience and a consistent approach.


This dog breed is not known for being a great protector or guard dog, despite their history of guarding horse carriages at night. However, they will certainly let you know if a stranger is around, and they will not be intimidated by threats of violence, as their athletic nature lets them harry an opponent while avoiding direct conflict. If you need a dog breed that will attack an intruder, then I recommend you look for a different breed.

Health Considerations

Dalmatian dogs need a lot of exercise AND human company, so they will NOT do well if they are left alone in a house or apartment, nor even in a large yard. They should be exercised daily, and allowed to become part of the human family if they are to be happy.

Further Reading

Click on the links or images below to read more about this breed.

The Dalmatian: An Owners Guide

Click here to read an interview with an owner of this fantastic breed!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *